Statutory rape consists of sexual intercourse with a minor, defined in most states as someone who is under age 18 or 16 (depending on the state) at the time intercourse takes place. The minor’s outward consent to intercourse is irrelevant. Statutory rape laws are strict liability laws that make a minor legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse. The assumption behind statutory rape laws is that someone under the age of 16 or even 18 does not have the mature mental capacity to voluntarily consent to intercourse. In many states, statutory rape is a felony only if one of the participants (usually a male) is at least three years older than the other; otherwise, it is a misdemeanor.
A minor can be guilty of statutory rape of another minor. If two 16-year-olds engage in sexual intercourse, in many states each could be prosecuted for statutory rape. In other states, only males can be prosecuted for statutory rape. Of course, such cases are rarely prosecuted. Even when they are, laws in many states make concessions to the frequency of sexual intercourse among minors in modern society. So long as one minor is not more than three years older than the other minor, statutory rape is often a misdemeanor rather than a felony.